You are travelling at 550mph, the temperature outside is -55C and the glass of wine you had been looking forward to tastes strangely disappointing. Welcome to the world of airline wine. Both travellers and wines are affected by the lower air pressure and humidity inside the cabin. Having a dry mouth makes wine seem more tannic, often more acidic and, just when the wine needs all the fruit it can get, your ability to taste it is probably reduced. Feeling anxious or bored makes matters worse, and engine noise and vibration do nothing to enhance the drinking experience.
The answer is well-rounded wines with good fruit – chardonnays that aren’t too oaky, fruity sauvignons or rieslings, pinot noirs, soft shirazes and classy champagne. Some airlines are better at it than others, so hats off to the winners of Cellars in the Sky: a tasting of 26 airlines’ wines organised by Business Traveller and Wine & Spirit magazines. This year, Qantas won Best First Class Cellar, with Asiana and Lufthansa the runners-up. Meanwhile, American Airlines won Best Business Class Cellar, with Air France and Air New Zealand as runners-up.